Thursday, Dec. 2, 7:00 PM, at Draddy Gymnasium, Bronx, NY
It was certainly painful to watch the Jaspers play in the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving weekend. However, it could have been much rougher.
Manhattan (2-4) continually improved throughout the three games in Orlando. The Jaspers played strong defense throughout the tournament and slowly improved their offense and their scoring. In the final game of the Old Spice Classic, the Jaspers showed signs of a team that could be competitive in the MAAC, falling to Georgia by only three points.
The Jaspers return home on Thursday and will look to keep improving in the MAAC opener against Rider (4-3, 0-1 MAAC).
The Broncs, who have lost two straight games since a 4-1 start, will look to rebound from two tough games and show that they could be the best team in the MAAC.
Here are the keys to winning this game for both teams:
Keys for Rider
Stay aggressive on the glass. Rider is not a strong rebounding team, averaging only 34 boards per game. However, the Broncs do have some big bodies which can cause some trouble for Manhattan on the glass. Manhattan's best rebounders are fairly small, with the biggest being Rhamel Brown at 6'6".
Keep up the good three-point shooting. Rider has been lights out from beyond the arc, with a 43.5 percent completion percentage. The Broncs have seven players shooting higher than 41 percent from three-point range. If Manhattan continues to play defense the same way that it did in the Old Spice Classic, Rider will get some open looks for three-pointers. The Broncs must convert on these.
Big men, stay out of foul trouble. Rider's two main big men, Mike Ringgold and Novar Gadson, have each been in foul trouble a few times this season. With these big men in foul trouble, the team appears to struggle.
Keys for Manhattan
Stay strong down low. Manhattan has a couple of players that can play well in the post. Pounding the ball down low will give players like Rhamel Brown and Andrew Gabriel opportunities to score in the paint, and players like Mike Alvarado and Kidani Brutus a chance to get open looks at jump shots.
Penetrate. The Jaspers have a pair of very good drivers in George Beamon and Alvarado. It seems as though when these two drive, good things tend to happen for the Jaspers.
Stay out of foul trouble. Manhattan is still very under-manned. Due to injuries, Manhattan only has 10 men on its current roster and only six have averaged more than 10 minutes per game. With a thin team, it is important to stay out of foul trouble. The Jaspers struggled to do this against Wisconsin and Texas A&M, but seemed to solve the problem against Georgia, fouling the Bulldogs only 13 times.
My line: Rider by 7